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Letter: Young people don't owe respect to our elders who don’t listen to us

In response to Ron Martz’s editorial: Ron started his commentary by drawing a comparison between a religious crusade and the Parkland, Florida, students’ current activism on regulating firearms. This was a terrible comparison to draw. 

Religious crusades often guarantee failure for those seeking them because of the extremely personal nature of religion, regardless of age. I would remind Ron of the absolute mess that the Crusades were, and that the leaders of them were far more often adults that carried failures. 

Secondly, religious crusades and common-sense gun control are, for most level-headed folks, incomparable. Religion and the beliefs attached to it are deeply rooted in one’s spirituality and identity. If firearms are so important in one’s life that they become comparable to religion, I dare argue that that person should re-evaluate their spirituality and personal firearm ownership.

Furthermore, very rarely has an elderly person ever talked “with” me, a youth, about anything. I can recall being berated many times by the elderly, but on very rare occasions and with only a handful of elderly folks have they engaged in conversation with me. So, I must ask: Why should the youth engage you? Why should the youth, whose opinions are routinely ignored by the elderly, consider your opinion?

The assertion that one has more experience because one has been alive longer has not been a necessarily true one since industrialization. Young people are given many opportunities that afford them experience, and I know that I have many experiences my grandparents and their friends do not. I know for certain the Parkland students have experienced a shooter gunning them and their friends down in a classroom, yet I would quite safely assume Ron has not. Yet, he feels justified in bringing up experience as a reason that an elderly viewpoint should be respected. 

Why? You lack the experience they clearly have; you should listen to them.

Young people do not owe the elderly anything at all. Sorry, but that’s the simple truth. At the end of the day, all we owe anyone, regardless of age, is the basic decency and respect that we expect for ourselves. 

However, historically speaking, white elderly men like Ron have never afforded anyone that isn’t them a seat at the table. When have you invited a young person in to listen to their opinion? When have you respected a young person because of their experience? The elderly need to ask themselves how they treat the youth around them before demanding better for themselves.

I think the elderly are under the pretense that the youth owe them respect and/or consideration, when they periodically refuse to consider or respect us.

Elizabeth Casper


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